After three strong storms washed away chunks of the Vineyard’s coastline this winter, Island towns are looking to make emergency repairs ahead of the summer tourist season. 

The state Department of Environmental Protection Monday granted Edgartown emergency authorization to dredge Katama Bay, clearing the way for a project intended to restore the storm-battered South Beach. 

In a meeting with town officials in early January, the select board declared a local state of emergency after the Island was hit with the winter blasts. The declaration was made in part to secure time-sensitive state and federal funding. 

The town estimated that the winter storms have caused upwards of $1.7 million in damages, and officials submitted an application to the state emergency management agency to receive aid. 

The Chilmark conservation commission Thursday approved emergency work at the Squibnocket parking lot. — Ray Ewing

Up-Island towns are also now considering work to help with erosion. Chilmark got permission from the town’s conservation commission Thursday to shore up the edge of the parking lot near Squibnocket Beach after the storms ate away at the dunes. 

The asphalt at the edge of the lot now freely hangs over the sand and there is a steep dropoff. The town asked for an emergency certification to do the repairs, which include filling in under the road surface to replicate the stone and other materials that are used around the rest of the cul de sac. 

“This year, there’s going to be a considerable step down,” said Chris Murphy, a member of the Chilmark conservation commission. “That’s just the nature of it . . . . When you deal with the ocean, it’s always changing.” 

The commission also asked that the town consider a long-term managed retreat plan for Squibnocket. 

Chilmark also received permission from the DEP to dredge the Menemsha Basin, and the sand could potentially be used to beef up Menemsha Beach or Squibnocket. In the past, sand from Menemsha Beach blew over into the basin, making navigation difficult for boaters. 

The town would dredge the sand and bring it back to the beach. More dune grass planting has taken place recently in an attempt to slow the shifting sands. 

“We’re trying to stabilize the [Menemsha Beach] dune so it’s not happening so much,” Mr. Murphy said. 

Aquinnah has also raised the potential of getting involved in dredging. On Tuesday, town administrator Jeff Madison told the select board he was concerned about West Basin after the recent storms. 

Aquinnah conservation commission chair Sarah Thulin said the town could potentially work out a deal with Chilmark, offering them a good deal on the sand in exchange for help with the dredge.

In the meantime, Mr. Madison said he will look into an emergency authorization similar to the one Edgartown received this week, so Aquinnah could begin a solo project if necessary.

“I want to do this right so we’re on solid ground, so to speak,” Mr. Madison said.

Emergency work on the Island isn’t expected to be cheap.

The first phase of the Edgartown South Beach nourishment work alone is estimated at about $709,000.

The town is still waiting on the full response from MEMA that would facilitate the rest of its restoration efforts. Town officials estimated the cost to replace the area’s lifeguard facilities, now sitting precariously on the beach, at about $400,000. Repairs to Atlantic Drive, the main point of access to South Beach, are expected to cost $21,685.